How User-Generated Content Is A Necessity For Brand Awareness

Mike Haueisen

How User-Generated Content Is A Necessity For Brand Awareness

If you’ve ever seen the movie The Truman Show with Jim Carrey, you probably remember laughing at the various “product placement” scenes. The premise of The Truman Show, for those who haven’t seen it, is that Jim Carrey is unknowingly the star of a reality TV show – his entire life is broadcast by hidden cameras, and every experience and interaction he has is controlled and scripted. We learn that in order to finance the popular show, the creators rely on paid “product placements” during the broadcast… and as every marketer knows, these don’t always fit in so seamlessly, resulting in placements (almost) as painstakingly obvious as this:

At the core of product placement in marketing – both exaggerated and fictional as in the scene above and real as in popular TV shows/movies – is a desire to have your product/brand be seen in its natural habitat, where consumers are already looking. Is there an MTV show host that’s popular amongst your target audience? Pay for them to drink an ice-cold Coca-Cola on-screen! As marketing professionals, we want to gain consumer trust by presenting our brand/product in an authentic way while being seen by as many as possible, but as consumers, we know that one of the first things we do when making a purchase decision is seek out reviews and information as told by impartial people – or what some might call user-generated content.

According to this article from SmartBrief, in search marketing, adding customer star ratings to Google PLAs can increase Click-Though-Rate by 17 percent and lower Cost-Per-Click by 15 percent. Furthermore, 77 percent of consumers say they trust other customer photos over brand photos.

See the connection here? We want consumers to see our brand/product in its natural habitat and in an authentic, trust-building manner. When you look at it that way, reviews, comments and user-generated content become a goldmine of opportunity, because that’s exactly what they are – authentic presentations of your brand from impartial sources. In their own way, these digital elements are free product placement, and brands should be capitalizing.

Whether it’s aggregating and sharing customer reviews or simply interacting with people already using your product/brand, there’s an incredible amount of opportunity to gain and keep consumer trust through user-generated content. Is product placement dead? Of course not, but why pay to have an ice-cold Coca-Cola prominently placed on MTV when you could simply share an already popular video in which someone drinks a Coca-Cola? Your brand is already being placed in content, free of charge, and with the help of social media, there’s such a wide variety of user-generated content being shared. All that brands have to do is spread and share it! Not only that, but as the article says, user-generated content gives consumers social proof about the product or brand they are considering, which is a strong influence on purchase decisions.

Relationships go both ways when it comes to products, and one way to break that two-way barrier is through user-generated content. Consumers have always sought out recommendations from those they know.  Before the internet, word-of-mouth had a huge influence on purchase decisions. But the truth is, that hasn’t changed in the digital world, except that now, word-of-mouth recommendations live publicly and permanently online for the world to see. At G/L, we’re seeing the positive impact that leveraging user-generated content can have both for our clients and for some of the biggest brands in the world. The word-of-mouth recommendations that can boost your sales and the voices advocating for your brand are already out there, isn’t it about time that you give them a megaphone?

Trending from G/L: Marketers Moving Away From Saturday Morning Cartoon Ads

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

Trending from G/L: Marketers Moving Away From Saturday Morning Cartoon Ads

Who can forget Saturday mornings as a kid? Getting up early (sometimes before mom and dad), rushing into the kitchen, making a bowl of the most sugary cereal in the pantry, and heading to the living room to turn on the television. This was what most of us lived for as kids – Saturday morning cartoons like Dexter’s Laboratory, The Magic School Bus, Pokemon, Recess, Animaniacs, and many more. You could argue that the closest we came as children to having a “zen” moment was during this act of slowly waking up to animated explosions and antics.

And while you most likely didn’t realize it at the time, those mornings were also your first experience with advertisements targeted and tailored specifically for you.

That bowl of cereal. Those comfy pajamas. Even the cartoon you’re watching. You may not have had anything in your wallet, or even owned a wallet, but marketers and advertising agencies recognized the buying power that you represented.

Saturday morning cartoons were the crown jewel for advertising toys and other products made for children. Perhaps the last place where an entire audience could be near-universally reached through a single medium. But stop us if you’ve heard this one before: marketing has changed in and increasingly digital age. How are today’s advertisers replacing the Saturday morning cartoon commercial? In one recent Washington Post article, apparently through Snapchat, Youtube Kids, and other mobile apps.

According to the article, nearly half of 10-to 12-year-olds have their own mobile phone. But once they reach their teen years, that number jumps to 95%.

Because children now have their own personal screens – whether they be phones or tablets – they use them to seek out their specific wants and needs, making it easier for marketers to target them with their advertising. Some argue that collecting this data from children should be a cause of concern for parents. Advocacy groups say that children can’t comprehend why they’re seeing specific ads, and how.

But, with users’ ability to skip advertisements, it should be noted that there’s no guarantee that target audiences will see a commercial or advertisement – in fact, often times the only ads that users will actually see or engage with are those for brands/products they already have interest in or want more information on. So while marketers continue to explore new means of engaging their target market, apps like Snapchat continue to gain interest as a means for increasing overall brand recognition while engaging those who are genuinely interested in their products. In 2017 alone, usage increased by an extra 130 million hours spent on Snapchat during the back-to-school season, connecting with brands through new filters and sponsored snaps.

It might not seem to you that these mediums and medias are as “zen” as the Saturday morning cartoons, but the reality is that they mean just as much to today’s generation as Cocoa Puffs and Rugrats meant to us.

The Industry For Me – My Summer As A G/L Intern

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

The Industry For Me – My Summer As A G/L Intern

Thinking about Geile/Leon, there’s one word that keeps coming back into my head over and over again:  genuine.

When I first stepped into the G/L office located in The Hill, I was a nervous graphic design major looking for a summer internship.  I glanced around the colorful, artfully-designed room and the creative people buzzing about. Whelp, I’m in way over my head, I thought, somebody, please, get me out of here.

That’s about when Dave Geile walked up to me, shook my hand and invited me into his office to talk.  After just a few minutes of conversation filled with more than a few genuine laughs and smiles, my nervousness had completely melted away, and I knew that I’d found the perfect place to spend my summer, and the perfect people to spend it with.

So, now, here I am, finishing up my last few days at Geile/Leon before packing my car and driving back to school.  But, before I go, I must share at least a little bit about my fantastic summer here.

When I imagined interning for a summer, I figured, “here come days filled with fetching coffee and sitting around bored.” I thought that the cliche portrayal of internships was cliche for a reason. But at Geile/Leon, on my very first day I was learning about and helping with PR projects and hearing about everything that the graphic designers had in mind for my summer. At lunch, they poured into me over tacos at a local restaurant, asking about what I had learned at school, what kind of work I wanted to do, and discussing different ways that they could help me grow as a designer and professional. I didn’t feel like an intern – I felt like a colleague.

Throughout this summer, I’ve had opportunities to design, to sit in on creative meetings, and to learn more than I ever could’ve hoped to.  I’ve been blown away by the incredible talent and creativity of the people that work here, which are perhaps most evident during brainstorming sessions, of which I’ve loved every second. Through status meetings and lunches, it’s been a joy to be a part of the jokes and day-to-day activities that make an office like this one so special.

The graphic designers spent time looking over and providing feedback on my designs, teaching me some tricks of the trade concerning layouts in different advertising pieces, the nuances behind producing a logo for a company, the significance of contrast for organization, and so much more.  I’m excited to be able to take my new knowledge and skills back to college with me, so that I can keep growing in my graphic design courses.

Even more than taking my skills back to college, I am thrilled to know that I love the world of marketing.  Spending time in the office has taught me more about what real-world graphic design will be like than any class at college could.  I find designing fun, of course, but designing for a purpose is so much more exciting. The process becomes a puzzle of how you can combine creativity with mandatory elements to solve client marketing challenges in unexpected ways.  It’s a challenge that I delight in.

I can confidently say that I have and always will cherish my time spent at Geile/Leon this summer. I will miss working with each and every one of the genuine, hard-working, talented, and inspiring employees that work here.

Natasha Ferkel | Geile/Leon’s Summer Intern

Trending from G/L: Danish Ad Breaks Barriers

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

Trending from G/L: Danish Ad Breaks Barriers

There are many different sides you can be on in life. Republican or Democrat. Vegan or Carnivore. Religious or Atheist. Categories we put ourselves into that seem to set each one of us apart from the “other side.” In today’s political climate and with the advancement of technology (such as the growing popularity of social media), unity between humans has never been so obviously shaken than it is today.

But a Danish television station ad is taking an aim at that division.

A commercial spot for TV2 Denmark opens onto a soundstage that has clear outlined boxes on the ground. Groups of people make their way across the stage, stepping into these areas that have been marked to define them. High earners versus those living paycheck to paycheck. Farmers versus people who have never seen a cow. Life-long Danes versus those who have recently moved to Denmark.

Us versus them.

But soon, an announcer begins asking questions:

“Who was the class clown?”
“Who loves to dance?”
“Who feels lonely?”

And something amazing happens. People begin to step out of their boxes that “define them,” and begin to uproot the “Us versus Them” narrative altogether. Until finally, the last question is asked: “Who loves Denmark?”

Every single participant stepped out of their boxes cohesively. The ad ends with “Maybe there’s more that brings us together than we think.”

The ad is a reminder – on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which uncoincidentally was the day the spot was released – that our perceived labels don’t define us. That if we look below the surface, we find how similar our narratives are to those we think are completely different.